Think it’s safer to live in the country than in the city? Think again.
A study published this week in the Annals of Emergency Medicine found that contrary to what many people think, the risk of death from injury is significantly higher for people living in rural areas compared to their urban counterparts. Researchers analyzed the cause of death for over a million Americans living in all the counties in the country. They found that the subjects living in urban areas had a 20% lower risk of dying from injury compared to subjects living in the most rural areas.
Injury is a significant cause of death in the U.S. – in fact, it is the largest cause of death for all Americans between the ages of 1 and 44. The study looked at many mechanisms of injury, including cuts, falls, poisonings, transportation and firearm related deaths. Researchers found that in the population as a whole, the most common causes of injury death were motor vehicle accidents, firearms and poisoning.
Regardless of location, the most common cause of injury-related death, by far, was motor vehicle accidents. However, the risk of dying from a motor vehicle crash in the most rural areas was twice what it is in the most urban areas, perhaps because of higher speed limits and increased distance from emergency medical care. So make sure you buckle up, no matter where you live!
The study supported some commonly-held beliefs about the city-country divide, however; the risk of dying from homicide was higher in the city. But interestingly, there appeared to be no overall difference in the risk of dying by firearm in the country versus the city, though risk did vary by age. People under the age of 14 and older than 45 were more likely to die from guns if they lived in rural areas, while young adults were at greater risk of being shot and killed in the city.
Nevertheless, don’t go looking over your shoulder for assailants and miss that rock you might trip over. The study found that in the population as a whole, the rate of subjects dying from unintentional injury was over 15 times higher than dying from homicide.